SIR Town Hall

The Rohingya: Roots & Ramifications of Myanmar's Human Rights Crisis

With tireless effort from a small group of members, Sigma Iota Rho successfully hosted their capstone event of the semester. With a turnout of over 90 students, professors, and outside community members, the ethnic cleansing against the minority Rohingya people in Myanmar, proved to be a popular and pressing topic for the event. Flying from Canada, Dr. Abid Bahar provided a deep understanding of the racial and ethnic lines, as well as the dangers of excessive military power and lack of true democracy that have been a long part of the history of Myanmar. Dr. Kenton Clymer of Northern Illinois University offered a perspective of United States government responses to events in Myanmar in the past and the degree to which U.S. policy is or is not changing in the face of the current genocidal act against the Rohingya people. Dr. Bahar pleaded with the audience to continue raising awareness about the crisis, but also to keep fighting for the democratic values of universal human rights and universal humanity. Arguing that the population of Myanmar has quickly learned to dehumanize an entire group of people and permit mass violence against them, Dr. Bahar stressed to the audience, “When the Rohingya die, a small part of humanity dies with them.” Within Myanmar today, the leader Aung San Suu Kyi—a Noble Peace Prize recipient—fails to recognize the vast impacts that racial and ethnic prejudice and excessive military power have on the entire world. If we allow genocide to happen again and again, what humanity will we have left?